Nasdaq-listed Chinese electric carmaker Li Auto apologised on Friday for trying to pass off a vehicle recall as an upgrade offer. The recall, which involves 10,469 Li ONE sport utility vehicles produced on or before June 1, covers about half of the company’s output so far.
The company faced a backlash after it said in a statement on November 1 that it was offering to “upgrade” a suspension component. On Friday, it said it would replace the component for free over the next three months.
“Many of our car users as well as industry people and media pointed out that the move is a recall, not an upgrade. We accept the criticism and apologise to our car users, the media and other friends in the industry over the incorrect and unreasonable move we made,” the company said in an open letter posted on China’s Twitter-like Weibo social-media platform on Friday. “Facing the problem and solving it efficiently is the way that Li Auto should take.”
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The company’s shares plunged by as much as 7 per cent following the recall announcement in pre-market trading on Friday.
The carmaker, started by serial entrepreneur Li Xiang in 2015, has delivered about 22,000 Li ONEs, its first model, since its launch last December. As of October 31 this year, the model had been involved in 97 crashes, 10 of them involving the component that needs fixing, according to company data.
Li Auto said that SUVs produced after June 1 were already equipped with an upgraded version of the component.
The company is not alone in recalling vehicles. Last month, US giant Tesla said it was recalling 30,000 Model X SUVs and Model S sedans in China made between September 2013 and January 2018 in the United States to fix faulty suspensions. Nio, another Chinese electric carmaker, recalled about 5,000 of its ES8 electric SUVs after several reports of battery fires last year.
Competition has been heating up in China’s electric vehicles sector, and a number of home-grown start-ups, including Li Auto, Nio and Xpeng Motors, are trying to overtake Tesla, which leads the sector in China.
Green vehicles, comprising pure electric cars, petroleum and electric hybrids and vehicles that run on fuel cells, are expected to make up one in every five cars on China’s roads by 2025, according to a development plan for the so-called new energy vehicles released by the State Council.
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